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Keep you and your money safe from ‘Jugging’ with these smart actions


You may have heard of a rapidly spreading form of theft and robbery called “jugging.” While the word’s origin is unclear, it’s well-known that it risks your cash withdrawals and possibly your personal safety.

These tips and others from Tropical Financial can help you minimize the likelihood of becoming a victim.

“Jugging” occurs when a suspect follows a victim from where they have withdrawn cash to their following location. They commonly watch branch offices, drive-through windows, ATMs, and stores where buyers receive money back from their purchases using a debit card.

Criminals observe the person handling the cash and follow them as they drive to their next destination. When the victim exits the vehicle, thieves do one of two things:

  1. Approach the person, threatening them with harm while demanding the money or aggressively taking the cash.
  2. Wait until the person leaves the vehicle unattended, then steal the money left inside.

Police in California and Texas were among the first to notice a pattern of people being robbed at a location other than where they withdrew cash. Now, law enforcement officials in South Florida are warning that the practice has spread here. “Jugging” practices have been linked to four robberies in Palm Beach County between February and April. According to news reports, one robber stole $32,000.

In Martin County, thieves took the novel approach of damaging the driver’s vehicle to force it to stop. When a woman who had withdrawn $1,000 from a local bank left the parking lot, she noticed that one of her tires was going flat. While she was stopped at a gas station to re-inflate it, a thief entered her unlocked car and stole her purse, which also contained a cell phone and other valuable items. He escaped in a waiting vehicle. The woman later discovered that three tires had been slashed.

How can you avoid becoming a victim of “jugging”? Follow these tips from law enforcement and banking officials:

  • Make a mental note of anyone hanging around in the lobby or parking lot for no reason.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings when entering and leaving a financial institution. Avoid using your phone, wearing earbuds, or doing anything else that might distract you from noticing a suspicious person.
  • After receiving cash at a teller counter, ATM or store, secure it in a briefcase or purse rather than a small, zipper-cash bag or envelope.
  • Immediately lock your car doors when you get into your vehicle.
  • Do not leave large amounts of money inside your vehicle.
  • Change the route you take after leaving the bank.
  • Notice which vehicles follow you out of the parking lot to make sure you are not being targeted.
  • If you believe a vehicle is following you from where you withdrew cash, call 911 or drive to the nearest police station or fire/emergency medical services station for help.

For more tips on how to keep your accounts safe, visit our Security Information page

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